Stipe Miocic is once again the UFC heavyweight champion.
A grueling battle culminated in Miocic landing a devastating knockout deep into the fourth round as he put Daniel Cormier down and out to avenge his prior loss to him and reclaim the title he held longer than any fighter in UFC history.
“DC’s a tough motherf—ker. I’m going to give it to him,” Miocic said after having the heavyweight title wrapped back around his waist. “Thank god cause that mothef—ker’s tough and he kept coming. It’s a fight, anything can happen.”
Cormier was ultra-confident as he came out guns blazing in the opening round, blasting Miocic’s lead leg with kicks. The kicks then set up Cormier coming over the top with punches that began tagging the Ohio native with several stiff shots.
As Miocic looked for a counter, Cormier swooped inside to grab a leg before lifting the former champion up over his head and then bringing him crashing back down to the canvas. Cormier was content hammering away with a powerful ground and pound attack with Miocic stuck underneath him.
Cormier went back to his corner with a sly smile on his face after a dominant performance through the first round.
Miocic turned up his offense in the second round as he began pawing at Cormier with his lead jab and then following up with a power punch behind it. While he was eating some stiff shots, Cormier still continued to move forward with relentless pressure and powerful shots that kept finding a home on Miocic’s head.
Both fighters were throwing with bad intentions, although Cormier still seemed to be getting the better of the exchanges even with Miocic connecting with some solid punches.
As the third round got started, Miocic was finally backing Cormier up with his combinations but he still couldn’t do the kind of damage to stop the former two-division champion from firing back at him in response. Miocic did manage to snatch a takedown but Cormier quickly worked his way back to the feet as they continued to chip away at each other.
It was close early but Cormier’s ability to push his jab into Miocic’s face swayed the momentum into his corner ahead of the horn to end the round.
With 10 minutes remaining, Miocic altered his game plan just slightly by targeting Cormier’s midsection with a series of hard left hands that were absolutely digging into the body. The repeated shots paid dividends as Miocic started backing Cormier up as he could only counter with huge winging punches that weren’t landing.
Finally, Miocic connected with another huge left to the body and this time Cormier winced in pain, which signaled the beginning of the end.
“I knew I was hurting him,” Miocic said about the body shots. “He was dropping his hands. I’ve just got to keep working, keep working, and he was going to leave something open and I started coming over with the right hand.”
Miocic pressed forward with a huge barrage of punches with one after another blasting Cormier as he wobbled against the cage. The last shots put Cormier down and out as he collapsed to the ground as referee Herb Dean rushed into stop the fight while Miocic threw his hands in the air in celebration.
It was an absolute battle throughout but Miocic fought through incredible adversity to work his way back and earn the knockout with the end coming at 4:09 into the fourth round.
As for Cormier, he had hinted at retirement as a possibility before this fight happened but he wasn’t ready to make that call after losing the heavyweight title on Saturday night. Instead he paid homage to Miocic on a job well done and opted to take time off before making any decisions on his future.
“I think he made a great adjustment like you said with the body shots. He hit me with a number of right hands and I really didn’t feel anything so I may have taken those for granted. He’s a fantastic champion. Congratulations to Stipe and his team,” Cormier said.
“You don’t make decisions based on emotions. This is a tough pill to swallow. At 40 years old with so many other opportunities, I need to speak to my wife and we need to make an educated decision as to what we’re going to do.”